Monday, December 4, 2017


Doesn’t matter how hard one tries to bend it, the bad boy drives off into the sunset with the girl and the nice guy smiles and waves, dreaming about the day when she wakes up and finds that what she’s looking for has been there the whole time.

My mom got an email the other day that she forwarded me.

It was about Luke.

Being a recently graduated student-athlete, I’m very familiar with the temptations that swallow people whole, the temporary pleasures that become the downfall of relationships, and the obsession with self-image that manipulates the soul.

People are so lost in today’s day and age.

And someone needs to shake them.

It’s time to stop sugarcoating things. It’s time to stop acquiescing to the pressures of the outside world.

It’s time to take off the blinders.

I am very strong in my faith. It’s the driving force to every decision I make. It doesn’t mean every decision I make is correct. I’m human, and we all screw up.

But being human doesn’t make certain things acceptable. Being human doesn’t mean we can make whatever decisions we want as a hormonal young adult, just to later ask for forgiveness when the time is right for us.

It’s not about you. Life on earth is not about you.

At Oklahoma and at UCLA I was blessed with a tight knit group of Christian friends.

In Oklahoma I specifically remember a mom coming up to one of my friends and me at lunch. She told us how much it meant to her to see a couple of athletes praying before their meal.

As small as it might seem to us, an Oklahoma football player and a women’s basketball player praying together before they dove into their Fazoli’s Fettuccini Alfredo touched a mother, father, and their 3 little boys.

Nothing flashy. Nothing to attract attention. Just blessing some food. It’s what we always did.

There is no greater opportunity to show people who you are than in college. It doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete. It doesn’t matter who you are. We are all made equal in God's image.

But people in the spotlight have a target on their backs. They are watched by many more eyes. They are faces of programs. They are idols of young and of old. They are swimming in pressure.


Who cares?

Who cares if you are the President of the United States, or the janitor at East High?

Remember your purpose.

It's not impossible.

I think about my family.

I think about my mom.

She’s one of the most humble women I know. She got into Vanderbilt the hard way (no offense dad & Luke), she has made countless sacrifices for our family, she has given my brothers and I a childhood that we will never forget, and she’s just flat-out pretty.

But my favorite part?

She loves the Lord with all of her heart.

Beth Moore workbooks are scattered throughout the house. She’s always leading some sort of Bible study. You wouldn’t know because she would never tell you, unless she’s inviting you, but one would know through the interactions one has with her.

She lights up a room. God is living through that woman.

Jesus drank wine, too.

I think about my dad.

He loves through action.

He selflessly raised all three of us kids after his professional basketball career, humbly taking on the role of Mr. Mom.

He taught me obedience, discipline, and how to shoot the 3 ball.

But my favorite part about dad?

He is one of the most devout men I know. He’s whom I pray to God about every night. Laying overwhelmed with gratitude, I can't help but thank Him for a father who raised me in the Catholic Church.

I think about John.

He texts Luke & I all the time in the sibling group chat-- constantly inundating us with stories, articles, or religious readings that he thinks would help us.

He’s an incredible older brother. He’s always learning, always wanting to grow in his faith and in our relationships with each other.

I think about Luke.

He loves wholeheartedly and with grace. He has that child-like faith that would never do anything malicious to hurt another soul. All he ever wants to do is help.

He knows why he was put here on this earth. He knows it’s his duty to serve. It doesn’t matter if you’re where you want to be or not. If you’re living by giving, chances are you’ll find joy in every opportunity that comes your way.

Following the rules may not look as appealing in the media, on Instagram, or at your high school prom, but I’m telling you—pleasure is temporary.

Don’t fall into the trap. Trust your gut. Know that there’s something else out there, someone else out there who has your back.

So don’t turn your back on Him.

Don’t give up.

There are others who are waiting til marriage, who go to church every Sunday, who say their bedtime prayers.

It’s so fun, guys. It’s fun living for a purpose. I can’t imagine living my life without one. I feel loved every day, I never feel alone, I see joy in every opportunity, and I know there’s more life after this one.

God gave us eyes to see.

Look around you.

Nice guys don’t finish last.

Nice guys finish first.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Real World

I still work at the Marriott.

I might give off the vibe that I'm busting my tail and moving up the ranks in my new UCLA gig, but I spend most of my hours busing tables, tending to the drunk, and falling on my face.

At 11pm the kitchen closes. In typical Kornet fashion, a table for two walked in right at 10:55pm.

I quickly placed their order for 3 plates of fish tacos and 3 plates of shishito peppers. They were hungry.

Our food runner takes off at 11pm too, so it was my job to run down to the kitchen and bring the food up.

I totally forgot.

30 minutes had passed, and I started questioning whether or not the chefs were out on the pier catching the fish themselves.

Trying my best to curb the appetites of two hangry men, I never let their gin & tonics go dropless.

Saved by the bell, the phone rang.

It was Chef.

He was not a happy camper. The tacos had been under the warmer for some time.

And Nicole, the food runner, was nowhere to be found.

I sprinted down the stairs and saw the food sitting there. After a few exchanges of unfriendly glares from Chef 1 and Chef 2, I apologized and grabbed the piping hot plates. I could feel the third degree burns bubbling my skin. Chef 1 and Chef 2 weren't about to help me find a tray either. By the time I turned around to ask for one, they were already out the door.

Time was of the essence. Two men full of testosterone were upstairs waiting on me.

I clinched the plates, peeled the corner, then bit it.

The floors were wet and my rubbery-soled Vans weren't up for the challenge. The chefs had just mopped and the lights were dim. It was 11pm and everyone was gone.

I landed straight on my elbow. I thought I shattered it. I pride myself on never breaking a bone, and there I was, laying on a wet, kitchen floor with a plate full of piping hot fish tacos, broken glass, and newfound sprinkles of fresh blood staining what had been my 23-year break-free bone streak.

(I didn't shatter it. Boo-yah.)

I somehow managed to salvage 2 out of 3 fish taco plates mid-fall. I dusted off the slaw, wiped my tears, and brought the remains to the table of two on the patio.

Now I know what you're thinking...

"Why are you sitting here wasting your time writing this blog when you can be in court filing a lawsuit worth millions???"

There was a wet floor sign.

I was just too concentrated on my boiling flesh that was frying from fish at the time to see it.

There was a "caution hot plate" sign for that too.

I don't say all of this for your pity, because if I were to do that I would have mentioned the fact that I got pulled over on my way to pick up a paycheck from UCLA earlier that morning.

Apparently I crossed a double yellow line while turning left and the cop decided to dish out a $400 ticket for "driving on the wrong side of the road."

When it rains, it pours.

Daniel Powder put it best, I had a bad day.

Being an ex-student-athlete, at that moment, as I laid there on the cold, dark, dank Marriott kitchen floor, it hit me.

Real-life is hard.


I don't want to be a waitress forever. In fact, I never wanted to be one to begin with.

But it's through this job that I've seemed to learn the most.

One of my coworkers was recently fired. He is a father, a husband, and the sole provider for his family.

Another one of my coworkers was carrying a glass water jug to refill for the guests. As he was carrying it over to the sink it slipped and sliced his hand open. He can't feel several of his fingers now because he didn't get to the ER on time. The ER, where he had to pay out of pocket, because he doesn't have insurance.

I've learned so much amongst my peers here in Southern California. I love these guys. I've never seen a group of such diligent, hard workers, and I had been a student-athlete at one of the most prestigious schools in the world.

I don't plan on staying long at the Marriott. In fact, with season starting up, my hours will now be going the other way, and UCLA is where most of my time will reside.

But I won't ever forget what I learned being at Le Merigot on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, California.

Be proud of where you came from. Be proud of who you are. Who cares if you're a waitress? Who cares if you're still trying to figure it all out?

If you're 43, or 23.

As long as you have health insurance........

The real-world is hard. I get it now. I no longer get the perks of being a student-athlete, but despite the world being hard, it doesn't mean I should be ashamed.

Not everything is as it seems.

People struggle. And as cliché as it sounds, there is so much beauty in the struggle. So much growth in the struggle.

People relate to struggle. We all do.

Real-life and real people resonate.

Even your favorite, superhuman NBA idols struggle. Once you truly get to know a person, a group, a team, or an organization everything becomes much more relatable.


I remember seventh grade.

I had the biggest crush in the world on John-Paul Malham.

But John-Paul Malham had the biggest crush in the world on Madison Austin.

In seventh grade he kissed her after school. I was crushed. Devastated. Destroyed.

I looked like this in seventh grade.

Madison Austin looked like this.

Fifteen years later, and that little Coley hasn't changed a bit. I've always been such a tomboy. Always have and always will be. I prefer throwing bombs to the boys at recess instead of ooo'ing and ahh'ing at those who do.

My mom deserves so much of the credit.

Not for the athletic ability per se, but for the confidence she instilled in me.

Don't get me wrong, my father taught me the hog-nasty basketball confidence, but my mom taught me how to be confident in who I am as a person.

She told me it was okay to wear the boy's t-shirt from Old Navy with the dogs on the front.

She told me it was okay to want do-rags for Christmas so I can look like Allen Iverson.

She told me it was okay to be who I am.

I have permission to be imperfect.


I'm a fairly shallow person. Well, here's the thing-- I'm obsessed with pretty people. I stumble into these beautiful LA mothers and their just as naturally beautiful children and I crave the same for myself one day.

But my mom didn't care. She never let me feel like I wasn't pretty enough. She loved me for who I was. And she told me I was beautiful the way I was every single day.

Kids go in and out of phases, and my mom knew that. She knew that one day I'd want to go to homecoming and pick out a dress. She knew that one day I'd want to take a shower. She knew that one day I'd grow up.

Yeah, I did want to look like Madison Austin. I did want to be the one that everyone fawned over, but there's nothing more satisfying than being who you are, owning it, living it, accepting it, and being proud of it.

I work at the Marriott. I have pimples. And I love who I am.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Take Your Sister To Work Day

I haven’t been back since I left.

And there I was, face-deep in a Turkey Bacon Pickleman’s sandwich in Norman, Oklahoma. I was with two of Luke’s best friends from high school and we were making the drive up from Dallas.

The New York Knicks vs. The Oklahoma City Thunder

I had to go.

I had to go so badly that I initially got to the airport on the wrong day, missed my original flight, and ended up in Dallas with a $150 change fee!

Thank you, Frontier Airlines!

My new job at UCLA consists of, you guessed it, blogging. So I figured what better way to start the new gig than to accompany my brother on his first day??

In Oklahoma City.

Luke’s friends wanted to get to the game an hour early to watch warm-ups. I never get anywhere early, so this was a tall task. With hours to spare, we made it to will-call.

“Kornet, please.”

The lady handed me an envelope with Luke’s chicken-scratch handwriting scribbled on the front.

And just like that – it hit me.

My little brother is in the NBA.

I walked into Chesapeake Energy Arena for what had been the dozenth time. From watching KD, Russ and Harden battle together as teammates, to fighting for our lives in the Big XII Tournament, to playing in my first Sweet Sixteen back on our home turf.

I walked through the double doors amongst the sea of OKC fans, and I couldn’t stop thinking—

I have to go to the bathroom.


All of these people are coming to watch this basketball game. 

The basketball game with a certain basketball player that sticks out from the rest.

(I'm talking about Luke).

I was smiling so big I looked like my mother.

As we found our seats as the warm-up clock dwindled down, I texted Luke where we were sitting. I stood up for the National Anthem and tears started falling down my face. There he stood, linked arms with Doug McDermott and Coach Hornacek.

After introductions, he looked up at section 111, Row M, seat 9 and smiled back.

More tears.

Happy tears.

After the game Luke came out and chatted it up with the guys. It felt like we were back in high school at Liberty Christian. After about 15 minutes or so, we had to let him get back to the locker room. We said our goodbyes, but I wasn’t done yet.

We were in Oklahoma City.

I had to say hi to my boy.

The security guards were on to us, but security guards can’t stop a girl in love.

“Russ! It’s your girl!”

He looked over, smiled, and asked how Luke & I were. Mission accomplished.

As we piled back into the car, I set the navigation back home. And by home I mean Pickleman’s. Pickleman’s for lunch. And Pickleman’s for dinner. Just like I never left.

Oklahoma’s campus had a ton of new, beautiful buildings. Owen Field’s renovations looked spectacular and the new Dairy Queen was a wonderful addition. An addition that would have saved me many tanks of gas, because the previous location I used to frequent was a good 30 miles away in Moore.

So much change.

But with all the change, the feeling felt the same.

I couldn’t help but get a quick word in with God.

“Lord, thank you for unanswered prayers.”

I know that sounds silly, but that was the theme of the day. I used go to bed each night praying to God that Oklahoma would get better for me. That the heartache and longing to be somewhere else would go away.

God didn’t answer that prayer.

It never got better for me.

I remember praying that Luke would get drafted. That it would be an easy road ahead for him.

God didn’t answer that prayer.

It’s not going to be easy for him.

But because He didn’t answer those prayers, He was able to show us His own.

Instead, God led me to UCLA.

Instead, God led Luke to the New York Knicks.

Instead, I got to bite deep down into a warm, toasted turkey sandwich that was 3 years overdue.

Instead, Luke gets to blaze a trail, affect millions more, and appreciate each and every opportunity that comes his way.

So much had changed. So many prayers gone “unanswered.”

And I couldn’t stop smiling.

After Pickleman’s round 2, we finally hit the road. I-35 South.

I could make this drive with my eyes closed. When I was at Oklahoma my parents still lived in Dallas. Pop a few CDs in and the 3hr drive whizzes by. Although my parents no longer live in Dallas, several other wonderful parents do. I texted one of the Liberty Christian moms at midnight and crashed in their guest room just after 3am.

After I transferred from Oklahoma, the 3hr drive to Dallas no longer existed, which meant for the time being, Liberty Christian didn't either.

My parents moved. My dad was no longer the Varsity Boys Head Coach, and I no longer had that Texas connection.

Or so I thought.

My mom bought the whole family flights for Luke’s home opener in Madison Square Garden the following day, so I had another game to catch. I was flying out of Dallas, but before it was time to go to the airport, I had to make a pit stop.

Where to?

Liberty Christian School.

I hadn’t been back since I transferred.

So much change.

So much change, but the feeling felt the same.

I was home.

The mom smile was back.

After an hour of catching up with the best teachers, coaches, and legendary Big Mike the security guard, who would have to unarm the school alarm after the Kornet family constantly broke into the gym for late night shooting sprees, my mind came alive with more flashes of unanswered prayer.

My senior year I was in all AP classes and had SAT tutoring every other night, while my best friends did as seniors do—nothing.

I wanted to go to Stanford.

But God didn’t answer that prayer.


You might feel stuck right now. Like how I felt at Oklahoma.

You might feel hurt for someone. Like how I felt for Luke after the draft.

You might feel utter rejection. Like how I felt after Coach Tara Vanderveer told me I didn’t get in to Stanford.

But I promise you that your unanswered prayers will turn into answered ones. Answered ones that you never even thought were possible.

Lord, thank you for unanswered prayers. Your way is perfect; my way is flawed. What I asked for was temporary happiness, but instead, you gave me a lifetime of happiness.

A lifetime of change.

That changed my life.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Circle Makers

I've been home for the past two weeks. Sitting on the couch.

I got really sick. So my mom's been doing what she does best: being a mom. From vaccines and flu shots to acne appointments and chest x-rays, I feel like I'm 12 again.

Especially when dad says I must walk the dog before I can eat my late night Nutter Butters.

I've had a lot of time reflecting on who I am and who got me here.

My mom’s a big reader and Bible study fan. In every state we’ve ever lived, she’s always made it a priority to sink her claws into a group of women and bring them on the bandwagon too.

Yesterday, on one of my long couch-sitting sessions, I stumbled upon her stack of journals, workbooks, and Bibles.

On the top of the pile was Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson.

My mom gave me this book right after I transferred from Oklahoma.

She gave me the book and a journal, and encouraged me to write.

I wrote every night in that journal, until I left it in the seat-back of a Southwest Airlines airplane on my way to Los Angeles, California.

That's when I started blogging.

After skimming through the first few pages of Draw the Circle, memories came flooding back.

Memories I vividly recall scribbling down about particular people, the places I'd been, and the feelings I felt.

Memories like these.

As many of you know, I had the best time of my life at UCLA. But what many of you don’t know, is that I owe much of why to these five Sooners:

1. Trevor Knight

Trevor is not only one of the most beautiful men you’ve ever laid your eyes on, but he’s also one of the most kind-hearted.

Trevor is the complete package. He’s a devoted man of God who has worked tirelessly for everything he’s ever accomplished.

If he wants something bad enough, he’ll get it.

If his dream is to start for the Oklahoma Sooners, he will.

If his dream is to blossom as a quarterback at Texas A&M, he will.

If his dream is to play in the NFL, he will.

Whatever Trevor touches seems to turn to gold. Not because he’s some fairy godfather, but because he knows what kind of diligence it takes.

He’s a doer.

He loved Oklahoma with all of his heart but knew it was in his best interest to leave.

I’ve always related to Trevor in this way.

Watching Trevor come into his own at A&M made me realize that it’s possible for me to do just that at UCLA.

Trevor left Oklahoma, but not a soul resented him for it. Because he did everything the right way.

I wish I could say the same.

What I learned from Trevor is resiliency.

2. Connor Knight

Connor is Trevor’s twin brother.

This guy taught me a lot. But out of the five, I probably know him the least.

Connor started as a walk-on at OU, while Trevor started as QB1.

But Connor’s not the type of guy who will sit back and ride the coattails of his brother.

Connor’s one of the most modest guys I know. He's never been one to try and one-up his brother. He loves Trevor with all of his heart. He’s his biggest cheerleader, and his biggest critic.

They remind me so much of Luke and me.

I used to really relate to Trevor, but lately I couldn’t feel any closer to Connor.

Connor never let jealously swallow him whole. Instead, he made a name for himself too, and scored a touchdown to prove it.

As I hang up the shoes and Luke polishes his, it’s important for me to remember what Connor taught me.

What I learned from Connor is how to give. Totally and completely of yourself.

3. Maddie Manning

Madeline Janet Manning is now entering her sixth year at Oklahoma. We came in together as freshmen. By the time she played in her first game as a Sooner, I was entering my junior year.

Two fresh ACLs later, she’s finally about to begin her senior year.

We were babies back then, but even then she knew she was going to be somebody some day.

Let me tell you though, it didn’t look like it was going to pan out that way at first.

That girl was and probably still is the most stubborn person I have ever met. But as I see her enter her senior year, I see how much she’s changed.

She’s seasoned. She’s focused. She’s the face of Oklahoma Women’s Basketball.

I hope she has the best year of her career. I hope she’s an All-American. I hope she does what Stacey Dales did and makes it to the national championship game. Against UCLA, of course.

Being teammates teaches you a lot about a person. Flipping through pictures I can’t help but smile at the moments we shared together. Grandma Whit

Three years have passed and I’ve only had a conversation or two with Maddie since I've left. But what she has taught me is immeasurable.

Maddie taught me how to believe.

How to believe in yourself, and in a cause that’s much bigger than yourself.

4. Peyton Little

I’ve known Peyton since I was 16.

We played on the same AAU team.

After her first semester at Texas A&M, she sent me a text.

“Nicole, I’m not happy here.”

Peyton came to Oklahoma my sophomore year. We had our own two-bedroom at the world-renowned Crimson Park Apartments in Norman.

Peyt & I tandem biking. On a Tandem bike we bought from Craigslist. 

She came right when I needed her.

Her uncle played at Oklahoma back in the 80’s. They lived a mile from campus at the time and became like a second family to me. We practically lived at their house in the summers and several times a week too (when Uncle David was cooking, and Aunt Amy was baking).

Peyton was a lifesaver for me. She couldn’t play due to the transfer rule, so she served as my counselor.

I was having a hard time on the basketball court that year.

I remember coming home from games, plopping face-down on my bed, and shutting the door behind me.

Minutes later, she’d come creeping in.

“Coley?” The sound of her voice still resonates in my head to this day.

She'd turn on my Backstreet Boys CD, and together we’d dance the pain away.

Only to be reprimanded by our coaches the next day due to a video that had surfaced on Twitter of a post-game dance party after what had been a 20-point throttling by Duke earlier that evening.

Sorry, coach.

Peyton taught me how to have fun again.

She brought the joy back.

5. Ty Darlington

I’ve never met anyone like Ty Darlington.

Like myself, he was between Stanford and Oklahoma when deciding on a college back in high school.

Unlike me, he got in. He chose to attend Oklahoma because Sooner pride ran deep in his bloodline, and he felt a connection that he couldn't resist.

Ty is a natural-born leader.

Coach Coale always told us to “leave your story better than you found it.”

Ty Darlington left his story better than he found it.

Lucky for Sooner nation, he’s still sowing the seeds of success within the football program in order for us fans to someday (January 8, 2018) reap the benefits. 

Ty isn't afraid to be who he is. He isn't afraid to hold someone accountable, push someone past their comfort zone, or simply be a shoulder to cry on when someone is hurting. 

What I learned from Ty is how to grow. How to grow deeper in friendships, amongst family, and most importantly, in faith.

Trevor taught me resilience.

Connor taught me how to give.

Maddie taught me how to believe.

Peyton taught me how to spread joy.

Ty taught me how to grow.

Three years later, as I finish up my time as a student-athlete and begin the next chapter of my life as a working woman, I reflect on the time I had with these five.

They each played a pivotal role in my evolution as a person.

Because of them I was able to learn from my mistakes. I took a long look in the mirror and fixed what was broken.

I was able to dive into UCLA head first, and make a splash.

I was resilient. I was able to give, believe, grow and smile while doing so.

Mark Batterson put it best, I've come full circle. 

As you draw the circle, who's in yours?